Yesterday, as we discussed, Allison Tant, a well connected and effective Democratic fund raiser announced her candidacy for FDP Chair. Ms. Tant is strongly supported by some of the most prominent Democratic elected officials in the state as well as several of the party’s staffers and consultants.
Multiple sources have confirmed to TPH that some Florida Democratic Party staff and consultants were active today in the halls of the State Capitol (where legislators are assembled for committee meetings) attempting to secure the support from members of the legislature for the candidacy of Ms. Tant.
While much of the Tallahassee based party establishment has rallied behind Ms. Tant’s candidacy in the last 24 hours, Alan Clendenin who was reelected by acclimation as the Hillsborough State Committeeman tonight has retained significant support from elected officials, grassroots activists and DEC members across the state. Annette Tadeo, another declared candidate for Chair, was yesterday elected Chairwoman of the Miami-Dade DEC, one of two counties in the state that produced a 200,000 plus vote margin for President Obama in last month’s elections. Several Democratic party staffers whose neutrality should be a given in a contest like this, have taken an overt stand in this possible chair’s race, which is sure to further polarize the party.
Ms. Tant personally is not to blame for today’s actions by party staff. She may very well have nothing to do with these actions but the behavior of some party staff are indicative of a culture that has long penetrated the FDP. This culture is one of top down leadership where the Tallahassee based staff and consultants make decisions that continue a vicious cycle of losing; the record of the state party, which has lost a greater percentage of races for statewide office (Governor & Cabinet) than any other Democratic Party east of the Mississippi River since 2000 has lost the confidence of many the activists and volunteers who have worked so hard to try and elect Democrats throughout the state.
It is extremely disappointing that party staff, rather than facilitate a smooth election process and start working on candidate recruitment and infrastructure building for 2014 are spending time and effort lobbying elected officials in the chair’s race. This sort of behavior is precisely why the grassroots activists of the party in urbanized central and southeastern Florida are growing further and further afield from the Tallahassee based leadership and staff.
Update: Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s spokesperson released this earlier today per the Tampa Bay Times: “Allison has been a strong and active leader within the Democratic Party for years,” said Jonathan Beeton, a spokesperson for Debbie Wasserman Schultz. “The Congresswoman has known Allison for more for more than 20 years and the entire Party benefited from her tireless work in helping to win Florida and reelect President Obama.”
DWS’ Florida delegation colleague, Congresswoman Kathy Castor is however sticking with Alan Clendenin: “Alan Clendenin will keep the Democratic Party’s momentum growing and take Florida Democrats to the next level. His plan to Rebrand, Rebuild, and Recruit will help The Democratic Party achieve success and opportunity for all Florida families and small businesses. With Alan Clendenin as Party Chair, Florida will move forward,” said Rep. Castor in a statement.